Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Americans More Upbeat on the Economy; Biden’s Job Rating Remains Very Low

In their own words: How people feel about the economy

In their own words: How people feel about the economy

How we did this

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand how the public views Joe Biden and the economy at the start of the new year. For this analysis, we surveyed 5,140 adults from Jan. 16-21, 2024. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.

Here are the questions used for the report and its methodology.

Americans’ views of the nation’s economy – while mostly stagnant for the past few years – are showing signs of improvement. Slightly more than a quarter (28%) rate economic conditions as excellent or good, a 9 percentage point increase from last April.

Chart shows Positive views of the nation’s economy increase, driven by Democrats

Virtually all the change since then has come among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Currently, 44% of Democrats have positive views of the economy – the highest share of Joe Biden’s presidency.

The new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Jan. 16-21 among 5,140 adults, finds that Biden’s own job rating remains highly negative: Just 33% of Americans approve of his job performance, unchanged from last month.

The economy, past and future; top concerns

Despite the improvement in economic attitudes, the public is far less upbeat today than it was from 2018 through early 2020, during Donald Trump’s presidency and prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chart shows Consumer prices remain a major concern, but fewer say they are very concerned about energy prices

Economic ratings remain far less positive than before the pandemic. In January 2020, 57% of Americans rated economic conditions as excellent or good; positive ratings fell to 23% in April of that year, as the coronavirus outbreak spread across the country. Views of the economy improved early during Biden’s first few months in office but declined subsequently.

The public’s future economic outlook turns less negative. The share of Americans saying economic conditions will be worse a year from now has fallen from 46% last April to 33% today.

However, more continue to say that conditions will be worse than better (26%) next year; 41% expect the economy will be about the same as it is today.

There’s less concern about energy prices and the stock market. A sizable majority of Americans (72%) say they are very concerned about prices for food and consumer goods, little changed from last year. The cost of housing also is a major issue, with 64% very concerned.

However, the shares expressing a great deal of concern about prices of gasoline and energy and how the stock market is doing have declined 9 points and 8 points, respectively, since last January.

In their own words: Americans on the economy

Chart shows Why do Americans rate the economy the way they do?

When the majority of Americans who rate economic conditions poor or only fair are asked why they feel this way, most point to inflation or high prices. Nearly half (45%) specifically mention high inflation (28%) or the high cost of living (21%); 11% specifically point to the high cost of food and groceries or the cost of housing.

People who view the economy positively – those who rate conditions as excellent or good – most often say low unemployment is a major reason why they feel the way they do (43% say this). Other factors cited are that inflation has come down (18%), wage growth (10%), or the strong performance of the stock market (9%).

Biden’s job performance, personal traits

Currently, 33% of Americans approve of Joe Biden’s job performance, while 65% disapprove. Biden’s job rating has not been above 40% since April 2022.

Chart shows By nearly 2 to 1, Americans disapprove of Biden’s job performance

Young adults are negative about Biden’s job performance. Biden’s job rating is low across all age groups, including young adults. Just 27% of adults ages 18 to 29 approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, while 71% disapprove.

Black adults are divided over Biden. About as many Black adults disapprove (49%) as approve (48%) of Biden’s job performance. Biden’s job rating is lower among Asian (39%), Hispanic (32%) and White (30%) adults.

Views of Biden’s personal traits have grown less positive. Biden gets his most positive ratings for being even-tempered (62% say this phrase describes him very or fairly well) and standing up for what he believes in (50%).

Far fewer Americans describe him as mentally sharp (29%), inspiring (26%) or energetic (24%). For the most part, perceptions of Biden’s personal traits have followed the same downward trajectory as his job ratings.

Judgments on Biden’s legacy

Chart shows Growing share of Americans say Biden ultimately will be an unsuccessful president

The share of Americans saying that Biden will be an unsuccessful president in the long run has increased steadily over the course of his administration.

Currently, 55% say he will be an unsuccessful president while just 23% say he will be successful; 20% say it is too early to tell. These opinions, like other views of Biden, are deeply partisan: Republicans overwhelmingly say Biden will be unsuccessful (87%).

Among Democrats, 45% say he will be successful, 26% say unsuccessful, and 28% say it is too early to tell.

Other findings on partisan compromise and the House GOP impeachment inquiry

Chart shows Democrats more likely than Republicans to support efforts aimed at forging partisan compromises

A majority of Democrats (59%) say Biden should try his best to work with GOP leaders to accomplish things, even if that disappoints some of his voters; only 32% of Republicans say the same of GOP leaders trying to reach compromises with Biden. These opinions have changed little over the course of Biden’s presidency.

During the Trump administration, Democrats were less likely to say their party’s leaders should seek compromise with Trump than Republicans were to say their party should try to seek political compromise with Democratic leaders.

Chart shows Wide partisan divide on House GOP’s
impeachment inquiry into Biden

About half of Americans (52%) approve of House Republicans’ decision to conduct an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden, while 45% disapprove. These opinions – and views about whether Biden has done anything that is grounds for his impeachment – are deeply divided along partisan lines: 85% of Republicans approve of the inquiry, while 77% of Democrats disapprove.

Relatively few Americans (16%) say they are following news about the impeachment inquiry launched by House Republicans into Biden’s conduct and possible connections to his son Hunter’s business dealings extremely or very closely.

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